Tag: costa rica sailfish

marlin fishing costa rica

Marlin and Sailfish Action in Costa Rica

Marlin and Sailfish Action off Quepos, Costa Rica

FECOP Featured Marina: Pez Vela, Quepos

Calm seas and great fishing equal good times in Costa Rica

Published for Marlin Magazine by Sam White

Perched on a narrow strip of rugged Pacific coast, snugged between the mountains and the sea, Quepos, Costa Rica, has always produced great fishing, not to mention generations of top-flight Costa Rican captains and mates. And with the world-class Marina Pez Vela fully online, Quepos is poised to take its rightful place among the world’s top destinations.

I got the call from Brent Brauner, the global brand manager for Columbia Sportswear’s PFG line of performance fishing gear. He wanted to field-test some new warm-weather clothing and capture some blue marlin action on camera. The only catch was that the trip had to take place before the end of 2018. Over the next few weeks we narrowed down the choices, finally deciding on Costa Rica.

With the seamounts producing the most reliable blue marlin fishing on the planet, we elected on a sort of combination expedition: two days offshore with a bonus day trip to target tuna on the spinner dolphins, sailfish on baitballs or anything else we could find. With its calm seas and a great transitional bite, we chose Quepos as the place to be in mid-December.

Brauner brought Columbia’s ace cameraman Joshua VanPatter, while I tapped Marlin Senior Editor Jen Copeland to round out our team. We needed a vessel large enough to support not just our crew but a medium-sized mountain of camera gear, so I called up Ken and Amanda Cofer at Tranquilo Charters. Fortunately, their 57-foot Spencer was available. After a recent refit in Florida, the boat was perfect for our needs: The staterooms had been converted to bunks for added sleeping and gear storage, and the addition of a Seakeeper gyro meant a rock-stable platform. The plan was to arrive in Costa Rica, head for Quepos and jump straight aboard, steam all night for the distant seamounts around 100 miles offshore, fish the first day, spend the night, fish most of the next day, return to port, and day-trip out of Marina Pez Vela for our final day.

marlin leaping out of the water

Multi-day seamount trips for blue marlin often incorporate a variety of fishing techniques. Crews may start the day pulling lures in order to find productive water before switching to slow-trolled live baits.

Sam White

The Transformation

The first time I fished out of Quepos, there was no marina, or even the thought of one. Charter boats used anchor-ball moorings in the lee of the protected coastline, and fishermen arrived and departed by way of an ancient concrete quay that also served as a commercial dock. Despite the rustic conditions, the fishing has always been outstanding pretty much all year round.

Packs of sailfish arrive to reinforce the local resident fish around Thanksgiving and stay well into April most years. There are also enough blue marlin around that you have a very good shot at raising at least one, especially earlier in the season, and multiple-marlin days are a definite possibility. Blacks and stripes are not considered a common catch but it’s certainly not unusual to add one of either species to the tally, either.

Fast forward roughly two decades and my, how things have changed. Marina Pez Vela now sports a modern cofferdam system that means a safe, calm basin year-round. It has 195 slips in operation with the ability to add an additional 100 slips in the future, all with a safe operating depth of 14 feet for vessels up to 200 feet in length. The fuel dock has high-speed fuel delivery, and each slip has fiber-optic internet and digital cable.

fisherman putting live bait in a tuna tube

Daniel Arrieta loads the tuna tubes on Tranquilo with bonito and small yellowfin tuna caught on spoons fished behind a planer.

Sam White

Perhaps one of the most important yet often overlooked features is the boatyard. Before the development of Marina Pez Vela, the options to haul out a sport-fisher in this region usually meant a trip up to Puntarenas and the commercial yard there. Now, Quepos is home to Costa Rica’s first 200-ton Travelift. The full-service facility can handle just about any maintenance needs, from routine service to full refits. There also is a dry stack with a forklift for smaller vessels up to 38 feet in length.

On the upland side, Marina Pez Vela is home to six restaurants including the famed Runaway Grill, as well as a provisioning center and supermarket. There are also numerous retail stores, tour operators, car-rental agencies, Promerica Bank, a medical center and more, plus storage bodegas and even a captain’s lounge with private conference center and work stations. The entire operation is first-class and on par with any high-end marina in the world, yet it feels at-home comfortable

I asked Marina Pez Vela’s sales director, Scott Cutter, for his thoughts on the project.

“We’re seeing continued expansion over the next five or six years,” he says. “We are also committed to the boat owners and anglers as the key to the success of the project, which is why we’ve invested heavily in the conditions of the docks and things like providing high-speed internet to each slip. This is a community marina, and the original vision — amazing fishing, warm-hearted people and a strong connection to the land and the sea — continues.”

fishing reels on the bow of a boat at sunset

A beautiful sunset over 100 miles offshore ends a long day of fishing.

Sam White

The concept of a community marina was an intriguing one. Rather than be walled off in a private enclave, Marina Pez Vela is right on the main road in Quepos and is open and inviting to visitors and locals alike. Friday nights are free movie nights with free popcorn, where everyone gathers to watch movies under the stars on a big-screen projection setup, and the Bright Lights Christmas boat parade was overflowing with people. Marina staffers dress up like Santa Claus and pass out presents to the kids. It’s what Cutter calls “good human friction” — but it also creates a sense of connectivity to the local community that makes it authentic. It’s also a culture that nurtures the next generation of captains and mates.

Heading Offshore

It is roughly a two-and-a-half-hour ride to Quepos from the Costa Rican capital of San Jose. We stopped about halfway down for lunch and then again to check out the giant saltwater crocodiles hanging out on the banks of the Tarcoles River. We arrived in Quepos in time to meet the Cofers at the Runaway Grill for a cocktail before departure; Capt. Roger Muñoz and first mate Daniel Arrieta secured all the camera gear and we were underway around 8 p.m.

Fishing on the seamounts begins at first light well before dawn, and continues past dusk, basically until you can’t see the baits any longer. We began by trolling a spread of four lures on 50s to scout the area at a faster pace. It wasn’t long before we had our first knockdown — but the hooks failed to find purchase, one of the small frustrations of lure fishing that comes with the territory.

We did catch our first blue around midmorning on a lure, then transitioned to live-baiting for a bit, then back to the lures. By the end of the first day we had released four blue marlin and had seen or jumped off a few more. Not red-hot by Costa Rica standards but four blues in a single day is damn good fishing anywhere else in the world. After a hot shower, a few rum drinks and an outstanding steak dinner, not to mention more than a few fish stories, it was time to hit the bunks.

The next day, Muñoz chose to run and gun among several locations looking for the mother lode. We released a blue in the morning but never found a hot spot, so we picked up and ran home in the afternoon, fishing for about two hours on one of Muñoz’ favorite spots 45 miles off Quepos. Right away the conditions looked better: There were bait and birds, and the first bite was a 30-pound dorado. A little while later we raised one blue and then another but unfortunately failed to connect on either fish. As we got ready to pack it in for the day, I asked Muñoz what he wanted to do the following morning. The reply was an easy one: Come right back here!

Offshore Bonanza

Our last fishing day was a standard day trip out of Marina Pez Vela. First up: tuna under birds and spinner dolphin. The ocean was alive with these mammals, showing off their wild aerial antics and swimming within a few feet of the boat as we trolled past. It’s one of those National Geographic moments offshore, and for guys like Brauner and VanPatter who had never experienced this before, it is awe-inspiring. Brauner even broke out the fly rod, casting at busting tuna from Tranquilo’s broad Carolina bow.

striped marlin below the surface of water

A striped marlin makes an unexpected appearance while fishing around schools of yellowfin tuna and spinner dolphins approximately 45 miles off Quepos. Day trips can produce outstanding action.

Pat Ford

It wasn’t long before we had a couple nice tuna in the fish box, then one of the lines took a strange angle as it headed for the surface. “That’s no tuna,” I thought. Sure enough, a billfish erupted from the calm surface and put on a blazing display for the cameras, a real Hollywood fish. Upon closer examination, it was a striped marlin, and a nice one at that. Even more amazing, we had hooked the fish on a purple rubber-worm-and-jig combination that would have been more at home on Lake Okeechobee than in 5,000 feet of salt water off Costa Rica. (The mates have found that these rubber jigs work great on yellowfin tuna.) After a few more photos and video, we sent the striped marlin on its way.

fisherman handling a fishing reel with a blue marlin on the line

Brent Brauner puts the heat on a tough blue marlin while Joshua VanPatter captures the action. Fishing days often last more than 14 hours, including those critical periods around sunrise and sunset.

Sam White

We released two blue marlin after the stripe, a couple chunky yellowfins and a half-dozen 30-pound dorado. We missed a couple more marlin as well, all on dead baits, dredges and 30-pound-test tackle. It was a blast, and all of this took place on seas that were as flat as your dining-room table. If there was one tiny disappointment, it was that we did not catch a sailfish for our boat grand slam. Costa Rica in December, and we did not raise a single sailfish the entire trip. Odd, but that’s fishing — and the marlin more than made up for it.

The next time you find yourself seeking a destination where exceptional fishing intersects with beautiful weather in a safe, welcoming country full of truly warm-hearted people, you’ll find it all and more in Quepos.

Quepos Confidential

Lodging: By far the most convenient and luxurious option for lodging are the Marina Pez Vela Villas, located just a short walk from the docks. There are 10 luxury villas available, with two- and three-bedroom options. Amenities include high-speed Wi-Fi, full kitchens and even a rooftop pool for the exclusive use of villa owners and guests. Our group stayed here during our trip. The luxury, decor, proximity to the docks and personalized concierge service make for an unforgettable and easy experience. The Hotel Parador, located on the edge of Manuel Antonio National Park, is another great option. It’s the official host for the Offshore World Championship.

the balcony of a villa at marina pez vela

The Marina Pez Vela Villas are conveniently located just a short walk from the docks.

Courtesy Marina Pez Vela

Dining: The Runaway Grill is the unofficial base of operations for anyone fishing out of Marina Pez Vela, with an extensive menu and happy-hour specials at the bar each afternoon. They also have a hook-and-cook policy where guests can bring in their own catch of the day and have it prepared that evening. We had several memorable meals at other restaurants in the marina as well, which run the gamut from fine dining to fast-casual sports pubs.

Fishing: Ken and Amanda Cofer have been chartering Tranquilo in Central America since 2012, relocating from Nicaragua to Costa Rica in 2014. “We wanted to offer a larger and nicer boat for people that wanted to experience a premier-level charter, with a great crew and all the latest equipment,” Amanda Cofer says. “Teams from the U.S. can come to Central America in their offseason to keep their anglers up to speed, and we offer them the same tackle, dredges and other gear they use on their own boats. We’re tournament-grade fishing every day, on every charter.” There are a host of additional charter operations based in Marina Pez Vela to fit nearly every species and budget. If time allows, don’t overlook the outstanding opportunities for roosterfish, cubera snapper, potential world-record snook and other species closer to shore.

Fishing the Offshore World Championship

The Offshore World Championship has been held in Quepos since 2013, thanks in large part to the support the event has received from Marina Pez Vela and the Costa Rica Tourism Board as well as the local community. According to OWC tournament director Dan Jacobs, Quepos is an optimal location for the event thanks to several key factors.

“The first is the weather,” he notes. “In April it’s nearly always flat-calm. And because the participating anglers rotate daily among the boats, the availability of a substantial charter fleet and a host facility large enough to accommodate everyone is also a critical element.” A plethora of hotels and restaurants check another must-have box.

Then there’s the fishing: Quepos has a world-class fishery, as noted in the OWC tournament records. In 2014, 64 teams video-verified 2,735 billfish releases; in 2015, 67 teams released 2,840 billfish, for an average of more than 42 billfish per team over four days of fishing. The OWC celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2019 with this year’s tournament running April 29 through May 3.

Article courtesy MarlinMag.com Marlin Magazine – Please visit our supporters!

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First Sailfish On The Fly – Costa Rica Fly Fishing

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First Sailfish On The Fly – Costa Rica Fly Fishing

First Sailfish on the “Fly” by Todd Staley

Photo above by Pat Ford

Published for The Tico Times

The Tico Times

The angler stood on the veranda of Marina Pez Vela in Quepos, Costa Rica and looked at the vast sport fishing fleet in awe. A Colorado native and avid fly fisherman, he had never been on the ocean before. He was quite adept on his home waters, walking the bank or wading in streams, casting a dry fly to trout.

He had seen fishing shows on television and read many an article about anglers casting to and challenging big pointy nose fishes with a flimsy fly rod on a deep blue ocean. It became a dream of his. Then an obsession. It moved to the top of his bucket list. Finally, the day had come. He walked down the stairs at the marina to the boats and stepped aboard the Big Eye II.

Captain Franklin Araya shook his hand and confirmed the angler’s mission was to catch a sailfish on the fly.

“There are plenty of fish out there, but they are muy mañosa,” Araya said, explaining that the fish are lazy and finicky.

Stop Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

El Niño is the culprit — the weather phenomenon that makes every blue water fisherman in the Eastern Tropical Pacific cringe. The water temperature goes up, the fish don’t follow their normal patterns, and they become lethargic.

Captain Franklin Araya. Photo via Todd Staley.

The Big Eye II idles out of the marina and Araya pushes the throttle forward. The angler from Colorado is paying attention to every detail. They pass green water, then emerald water. The water turns blue and they pass a large pod of pilot whales. Araya motors forward. Finally, the water turns a deep cobalt blue that boat captains like to see. Sailfish feed mainly by sight. The cleaner the water, the happier the sailfish. Deep blue means nutrient-rich, clean water.

Araya throttles down and begins trolling around 6 or 7 knots. For fly fishing, he prefers to pull four teasers, lures without hooks to entice sailfish to the surface. The Sailfish are fooled into thinking it is something they usually prey on, like a bonito, flying fish, or one of several other tasty species.

The theory behind fly fishing for sailfish is quite simple. The sailfish comes up chasing and slashing at the teaser. The mate reels in the teaser with the sailfish chasing behind, and at the last second jerks the teaser from the water. At the same moment, the captain is putting the boat in neutral and the angle is casting the fly. Only a short cast is necessary. The only option for the charged-up sailfish is the fly that was just presented and a hungry sail will almost always strike it. It is really a team effort. Floating flys with a popper head works best in Costa Rica. When asked for his top three-color choices Araya replied, “pink, pink and pink!”

Teaching people or taking folks to catch their first sailfish on the fly is a passion for Araya. He says first timers or novices are his best students, because they listen well to instruction. People with saltwater fly experience sometimes seem more set in their ways and don’t always take instruction well. Every ocean is different. What works in Florida might not work so well in Costa Rica, and vice-versa.

They had been trolling nearly three hours and passed at least a half dozen “floaters,” sailfish cruising the surface with either their tail fin or their whole sail above the surface. One or two came into the teasers, took a quick sniff and faded off. The fish were definitely lazy. Araya put out a couple “naked ballyhoo” in the spread of teasers. Natural baits which will give the fish a scent to follow or even a taste, but with no hook in the bait.

Sail on the surface. Photo via Todd Staley.

Shortly, a sailfish showed up in the spread of teasers that was ready to play. It smacked the left long teaser, then charged into the short, the closest teaser to the boat. It was lit up like Christmas in a purple hue, and Araya knew with thiCosta Rica Real Estates fish it was game on.

Araya dropped the boat into neutral and hollered down to the Colorado angler to cast. In all the excitement, he remembered the captain’s instructions. “Fish it just like you would with your dry fly. When the line comes tight strike him, and hang on.” He made his cast. It was picture-perfect after that. The sail hit the fly going away, and the line immediately went tight. He struck hard. Line screamed off his reel, and the reel handle slammed into his knuckles hard for a painful initiation of hooking one of the fastest fish in the ocean.

 

 

 

Sail hook up fly. Photo via Todd Staley.

He recovered nicely, and 150 yards of line screamed off the reel while the sail did a fast-forward ballet across the surface before it slowed. The rest was simple angling knowledge. You don’t beat a big fish with strength; you beat it with finesse. It pulls left, you pull right; it pulls right, you pull left. When it runs, you rest. When it stops, you work.

He had the fish boat-side in around twenty minutes, an amazing time for a first sail on the fly. They gently released it. He even managed a second before the day was over, sin busted knuckles.

It might be months before someone can wipe the smile off his face.

The last thing he said to Franklin as he left the boat was, “see you next year — I think I am ready to try a marlin!”

Capt. Franklin Araya is willing to answer any of your questions about fly fishing in Costa Rica. On a busman holiday, he travels over to the Caribbean side of the country to tangle with tarpon on a fly. He can be reached at 8379-1702. 

Todd Staley has run fishing sport operations on both coasts of Costa Rica for over 25 years. He recently decided to take some time off to devote full-time to marine conservation and is the communications director at FECOP. Contact him at wetline@hotmail.com.

 

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Sailfish Hero Shot

Sailfish – The Evolution of The Hero Shot

Saifish -The evolution of the Hero Shot

Written for the Tico Times by Todd Staley February 28, 2019

A picture recently sent to Todd Staley showing people still taking hero shots. (Photo courtesy of Todd Staley)

Did you know the sailfish picture above is now illegal in Costa Rica?

Ten years ago a regulation made it illegal for the sport fishing sector to take a billfish, sailfish and marlin, out of the water for a “hero shot” photo of their prized catch.

The web is full of photos that could potentially bring a 2 million colones fine ($3,250) to the offender who pulls a billfish out of the water. To date, I don’t know of anyone who has ever been arrested or prosecuted on this. In fact, after all these years, many still claim they don’t know about the law.

Not everyone agrees with it either.

Many charter captains feel it diminishes their chance to attract new business. When potential clients see happy people holding big fish, they want to do it too. Many tourists are not aware of the law and crews, who rely on tips, don’t want to disappoint them.

It seems that some people have appointed me the billfish cop and when a hero shot shows up on social media, someone sends it to me. I usually send a message to the person who posted the picture, explaining the law. Sometimes I get a thank you note, sometimes I get responses I couldn’t possibly print here.

While hero shots are all over the internet, they’ve been around for decades. They started with old black-and-white photos of multiple fish nailed to a board at the dock or a huge hanging marlin.

An old black-and-white photos showing how anglers and charter captains bragged about their catch. (Photo courtesy of Sailfish Club)

That is how charter fleets attracted their next clients. That slowly evolved to a more catch and release attitude, but the need for the hero shot still existed to attract clients. Thousands of fish were dragged over the side of the boat and set in the angler’s lap for a photo.

Eventually, it was decided it was even better to leave the fish in the water.

People think a couple of minutes out of the water is not harmful to the animal, but any amount of time out of the water is bad for the fish. It stresses the fish and removes the protective slime by dragging it onboard, making them susceptible to life-threatening bacteria.

It’s still possible to get a good hero shot without taking the fish out of the water. First, whoever was taking the photo should know how to operate the camera. I’ve seen many wasted minutes while a tourist fumbles with a fish and a crewmember fumbles with a new camera.

A legal hero shot that’s also safer for the fish. (Photo courtesy of Todd Staley)

You can also give the client gloves so they can grab the fish by the bill. That way they can get a picture with a fish while it’s still in the water. The client can lean over with a big smile while someone snaps a few pictures. Then the fish can be safely released with minimum stress. This is more easily accomplished if the side of the boat is not very high off the water.

I think ego drives a person to get the photo with them up close and personal with a prized fish. I have certainly lifted my fair share of billfish out of the water, but after 10 years of not lifting one out, I have changed my mind.

New technology has given us something better than a hero shot.

Today almost everyone walks around with a high-resolution camera capable of video in their pocket. There are also Go-Pros or similar products that can be operated by remote or voice control. Clip one on to your canopy and you have a great view of the entire stern of the boat. Some of the best fishing videos and still pictures I have seen were taken from devices like the one we carry in our pockets.

I now personally think it is much more impactful to show your friends just how exciting these fish are to catch. An action video of your fish dancing across a cobalt sea is very impressive. It doesn’t have to be long, usually 15 to 30 seconds will tell the story. Try to get at least a few seconds of the angler on the rod or line screaming off the reel and your friends will think you are a pro.

So once again I remind anglers, in Costa Rica it is illegal to remove a billfish from the water by sport fishing enthusiasts. Commercial fishermen are allowed 15 percent incidental catch on sailfish.

Not everyone has the same opinion and Capt. Skip Smith, who is a world class captain and writer who now fishes in Quepos voiced his opinion on what is more harmful to billfish. You can read his article over at Marlin Magazine.


Todd Staley has run fishing sport operations on both coasts of Costa Rica for over 25 years. He recently decided to take some time off to devote full-time to marine conservation and is the communications director at FECOP. Contact him at wetline@hotmail.com.

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Costa Rica Sailfish

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Costa Rica Fishing Species – Sailfish

Learn more about Costa Rica Sailfish

Costa Rica Sialfish

Image from IGFA Fish Database

About Costa Rica’s Pacific  Sailfish

Its fighting ability and spectacular aerial acrobatics endear the sailfish to the saltwater angler, but it tires quickly and is considered a light tackle species. Fishing methods include trolling with strip baits, plures, feathers or spoons, as well as live bait fishing and kite fishing. The most action is found where sailfish are located on or near the surface where they feed.

Recent acoustical tagging and tracking experiments suggest that this species is quite hardy and that survival of released specimens is good

FECOP Fish Facts: Pacific Sailfish

Fastest Fish in the Sea at up to 70mph

World Record 222 lbs (Ecuador)

Common Name: Sailfish

Scientific Name: Istiophorus

Type: Fish

Diet: Carnivores

Group Name: School

Average life span in The Wild: 4 years

Feeding Tactics: Uses its bill to stun individual fish or slash groups of fish

Size: 5.7 to 11 ft

Weight: 120 to 220 lbs

 

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Fishing for Science – Tagging and Studying Sailfish and Marlin

Fishing for Science: Tagging and Studying Sailfish and Marlin Habits

By Todd Staley published for The Tico Times Jan 31, 2019

Left to right: FECOP member Henry Marin tagging expert Robbie Schallert, Captain Francisco Lobo, First mate Gerardo “McFly” Moreno, Dr. Danielle Haulsee, and Dr. Larry Crowder. (Todd Staley / The Tico Times)

The site of a billfish coming up into a spread of teasers, happily skipping across a deep blue ocean never gets old. Sailfish, named for their extremely tall dorsal fin and a sword-like bill, will light up in a purple hue when excited.

They generally come into the teasers — which are hook-less lures that trail behind the boat to attract sailfish — gracefully swatting them with their bills. This gives you time to place your bait in front of it. A marlin looks similar to a sailfish, but they’re much larger. They also almost always bust through the ocean like a linebacker blitzing the quarterback, or a bull tearing through the ring at Christmastime in Zapote. The adrenaline rush of catching one of these fish is always rewarding, but it’s even better when you know you’re helping science learn a little more about these fish.

FECOP’s Henry Marin brings a study subject on board

I recently helped a group of scientists, led by Dr. Larry Crowder from the Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford University, catch fish to better understand and manage ocean pelagics like sailfish and marlin.

It was a good day for fishing and science. There was enough fish for the scientists to be selective with the ones they tagged. They placed satellite tags in three marlin and nine sailfish They chose the healthiest looking fish to place the tags. The tags cost around $4,000 a piece, so it pays to be careful. The tags they use have a “double loop” system which limits the drag in the water and keeps the tag close to the body. It’s black so predator fish won’t be attracted to it.

The team several scientists from Stanford University, tagging experts and several local captains. The team of scientists were here to start-up a four-year project called Dynamic Marine Animal Research (DynaMAR) and are placing satellite tags on marlin and sailfish along several points off the Pacific coast.

 

The tag is black so it won’t attract predators. (Todd Staley / The Tico Times)

 

It was a good day for fishing and science. There was enough fish for the scientists to be selective with the ones they tagged. They placed satellite tags in three marlin and nine sailfish They chose the healthiest looking fish to place the tags. The tags cost around $4,000 a piece, so it pays to be careful. The tags they use have a “double loop” system which limits the drag in the water and keeps the tag close to the body. It’s black so predator fish won’t be attracted to it.

The team several scientists from Stanford University, tagging experts and several local captains. The team of scientists were here to start-up a four-year project called Dynamic Marine Animal Research (DynaMAR) and are placing satellite tags on marlin and sailfish along several points off the Pacific coast.

The tag is black so it won’t attract predators. (Todd Staley / The Tico Times)

The tags will gather information on movement, location, depths traveled and water temperatures. They are set to pop off at intervals of, six, nine, and 12 months and float to the surface. Then an antenna will transmit the data to a satellite. Scientists will compare that data from other sources the fish have traveled to.

They are especially interested in what these fish are doing during an El Niño period. During this period, the water warms and changes the upwelling of nutrients. The fish’s normal patterns change and they become more lethargic.

They plan to tag fish every month of the year in future visits and hope to have data on nearly 150 billfish after they’re finished.Dr. Crowder says a similar study on swordfish of the coast of California changed the thinking on Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s).

“Fish don’t always stay in the same place, especially pelagic species, they are always on the move,” Dr. Crowder said. “What we found was at times the fish and marine life we were trying to protect were not even in the area we were protecting”

Dr. Larry Crowder (Pictured Right –  by Todd Staley / The Tico Times)

With the information they gathered from the swordfish study, they were not only able to predict where the concentration of swordfish would be, but more importantly, they could predict where the highest concentrations of bycatch would be. In that case, it was blue sharks and Leatherback turtles, a highly endangered marine reptile.

That study led to the creation of Mobile Marine Protected Areas. By predicting the location of bycatch, areas could be closed to commercial swordfishing for a period and changed with the movements of the bycatch. This led to better conservation effort while allowing commercial fisherman a larger area to fish.

 

 

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Win a 5 Night Costa Rica Fishing Trip for Two at Crocodile Bay Resort

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Includes wine at dinner at the resort and cooler with beer when fishing. This trip may be taken April 1, 2019 – December 15, 2019 *

LEGAL RESTRICTIONS:

Other legal restrictions may apply in your country. Winner must be at least 18 years old and hold a passport issued by their country of residence and valid for at least 6 months following departure from this country. Package prize details may change at any time

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Costa Rica Billfish

Having a Successful Costa Rica Fishing Trip

Getting The Most Out of Your Costa Rica Fishing Trip

Thinking about sport fishing in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is known for some of the best billfishing (sailfish and marlin) in the world. Trolling for sailfish or marlin has a hypnotic effect on one. Staring at six or more brightly colored teasers skipping across an indigo ocean for any period of time almost puts you in a trance. The following tips should help you get the most out of your Costa Rica fishing trip.

That trance is quickly interrupted when a swordsman lit up in a purple hue snaps you back to reality and charges up from the deep, slashing at the teasers. Knowing what to expect before this happens can mean the difference between a missed fish or a date with a ballerina on a cobalt blue dance floor. Be prepared for your fishing trip.

Keys to Success on Your Costa Rica Fishing Trip

If you booked through a travel agent ask for the phone number or e-mail of the  operator, or even the captain and talk to them. Ask what kind of boat you will be on, what type of equipment they use, what methods they use and if it is important to you, what level of English do their crews speak.

Once onboard talk with the crew and ask questions. Talk about your own level of experience. Leave your ego in your suitcase. If your home is full of trophies from fishing tournaments,  but you have never fished sailfish or marlin, let your crew know. Most crews will give you as much or as little help as you want, but you have to communicate that to them.

 

 

Communication during your Costa Rica fishing trip is VERY important

Almost all captains in Costa Rica use a “bait and switch” method of trolling for billfish. The fish pops up in the teasers and the mate reels in the teaser with the fish in hot pursuit. As the fish moves in closer to the boat, the angler pitches a bait in the water and drops it back to the fish. The teaser is than jerked from the water leaving the bait as the only option for the fish to grab a quick meal. The same method applies to fly fisherman – and if you haven’t tried billfish on a fly your literally missing the boat.

You are required by law to use circle hooks in Costa Rica when fishing with live or dead bait. The design allows the hook to set itself without jerking the rod. Actually they are a very effective method of hooking fish while causing the least amount of damage to the fish for a safe release.

Circle hooks are not something new. They have been found made from seashells in the burial grounds of pre Columbian Indians as well as in Pacific coast Native American burial grounds. The Japanese made them long ago out of reindeer horns.

They are really quite easy to use if you plant this in your brain. Crank…Don’t Yank!!!   If you are not familiar with circle hooks ask your crew to explain them before fishing.

Communication, both before and during your trip is the key to having a great Costa Rican fishing adventure.  It’s your turn on the dance floor.

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Costa Rica offshore fishing

The Science of Offshore Fishing

Effective management of offshore fisheries helps pelagic species become hard-fighting machines

Rather than droning on about stock-assessment updates, I’d like to discuss what drives anglers to ensure that pelagic species like tuna, wahoo and billfish are properly managed. Hopefully most folks realize that these creatures need to be conserved because they have a natural role in pelagic ecosystems as top-level predators. Anglers, however, are likely to have their own reasons to make sure there is an ample supply of these critters.

All of the aforementioned species share similar characteristics that make them endearing to recreational anglers. Most are aesthetically pleasing to the eye, even beautiful, and a few grow to colossal sizes. Some, in the case of tunas and wahoo, make for some of the best table fare that the ocean can offer. But there is one defining feature that really makes anglers love these fish: They are high-performance animals that pull like hell on the end of the line. The thrill of a big tuna, wahoo or marlin effortlessly pulling drag from a reel is one that is hard to beat.

These species’ capacity for speed and stamina is derived from unique adaptations evolved over the millennia that are truly fascinating. Tunas, for example, have a muscular composition that sets them apart from the rest of the pack and makes them masters of both speed and stamina. Virtually all fish possess a combination of fast- and slow-twitch muscle. Fast-twitch, or white muscle, as the name implies, is designed for burst speed. However, its white appearance means that it is not highly vascularized. As a result, white muscle can fatigue quickly and doesn’t afford much in the way of stamina.

Stop Illegal Fishing in Costa Rica

Slow-twitch muscle, which tuna have a lot of, is red because it is highly vascularized and well-­oxygenated, so it provides the necessary stamina for extended cruising — or in the case of a big tuna, thoroughly beating you up, whether you’re fighting one in the chair or standing up. The unique positioning of red muscle within white muscle, along with an amazing countercurrent vascular system, allows tunas such as bluefin the ability to generate and retain heat, so their body temperatures can be significantly higher than the surrounding ambient water temperatures. Keeping their eyes, brain and muscles warm gives these fish a performance edge in colder waters.

Pelagic species don’t lead ­sedentary lives; they derive oxygen from the water through ram ventilation, where the act of swimming actively moves water over their gills. As such, gill adaptations are critical for supplying oxygen to brain and muscle. Tunas have the largest gill surface area relative to size, with billfish, wahoo and the rest of the mackerels right behind with more surface area than virtually any other fish. Tuna’s individual gill filaments are also uniquely shaped to allow them to be tightly packed without collapsing during high-speed swimming to maximize surface area and oxygen exchange.

More Conservation News

Billfish possess unique spinal ­adaptations that benefit their energetic lifestyle and acrobatic tendencies. They have highly modified neural and hemal spines that overlap the ­intervertebral joints and interlock with fibrous connective tissues. This particular vertebral morphology is thought to act like a spring, which transmits force and power to the tail. These spinal adaptations are also thought to guard against shearing and compression of the intervertebral joints during bending, which also might explain how marlin can display such wild acrobatic gyrations without throwing out their backs.

This is just a brief glimpse into what makes these species some of the world’s most supremely engineered fish. The adaptations make them the game fish that they are, but it’s important to note that it can take millions of years of evolution to gain these refinements. That is why it is critical that we do all we can to ensure that these species are properly managed and conserved.

Article from Marlin Magazine

http://fishcostarica.org/marlin-sailfish-sat-tag/
http://fishcostarica.org/fecop-tips-how-to-handle-sailfish-and-marlin/
http://fishcostarica.org/fishing-species-pacific-blue-marlin/
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Costa Rica Fishing Species – Sailfish

Costa Rica Indo-Pacific Sailfish

 

From IGFA Fish Database

Shaw & Nodder, 1791); ISTIOPHORIDAE FAMILY; also called spindlebeack, bayonetfish

An Excerpt from Costa Rica Sailfish for Dummies by Todd Staley Communications Director, FECOP

Todd Staley FECOPThe lifetime of a sailfish varies from 4 to 10 years. Most of the juveniles spend their first few years off the coast of Mexico. That doesn’t necessarily mean they were born there. For example, a west coast Florida tarpon starts its life 100 miles or so off the beach, but spends its early years in the estuaries. The largest sailfish and the long-standing world record of 222 pounds came from their farthest range to the south in Ecuador.

The tropical Pacific is really not a very inviting place for sailfish. The low oxygen content in the water will not support them, but two famous currents bring in healthy water. The Humboldt Current flows north from Chile and Peru and collides with the California Current flowing south from the U.S. and Mexico off the coast of Central America, forming a “tongue” of current that supports sailfish, though to a depth of only 100 meters or less. Unlike the striped marlin that is caught off Mexico but might spawn off Australia, the eastern tropical sailfish’s range is limited to the coastal waters of the two currents and the tongue formed off Central America.

Sailfish are the fastest fish in the sea

Another phenomenon happens each year: Three distinct and powerful winds blow from land offshore. They start in December or January and blow until March or April. In Mexico, winds that start in the Gulf of Mexico push across the Tehuantepec lowlands offshore into the Pacific. Likewise, the Papagayo winds from Lake Nicaragua push offshore across Nicaragua near the Costa Rican border. Also, a Caribbean wind current crosses Panama heading into the Pacific near the Panama Canal.

As the Pacific surface water is pushed offshore, the upwelling sends to the surface oxygen-depleted water that cannot support sailfish. The entire population is forced into pockets of healthy water, which happen to lie in front of windless parts of southern Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and parts of Panama. During this period, El Salvador, Nicaragua and other parts of Panama are nearly devoid of sailfish. This is the equivalent of taking the entire population of San José and moving everybody to the Pacific coast for four months out of the year, with no one living in between. Fortunately for the sailfish, their main food source, squid and sardines, follow the same pattern.

 

The reality is that these areas do not have a tremendous abundance of fish, but the whole population is forced to share these pockets. When there is a strong El Niño, the winds do not blow, so the population is not condensed into oxygen-healthy pockets caused by the normal upwelling. The surface waters also warm, and peak-season fishing results in Guatemala and Costa Rica drop dramatically.

Costa Rica has the benefit of two peak sailfish seasons. From the Gulf of Nicoya south, the peak is January through April. The Guanacaste region to the north begins to peak in May after the winds die and the fish begin to move freely out of prisons formed in Guatemala and southern Costa Rica.

Sailfish Facts Costa Rica

Dr. Ehrhardt’s studies have shown that a strong management plan is needed with all Central American countries working together. The Costa Rican Tourist Fishing Federation (FECOPT) is working with sport and commercial fishermen and the government on management plans within Costa Rica. In addition, CABA, The Billfish Foundation and local groups are working with Central American governments to form a united effort to conserve the region’s sailfish populations.

Sailfish Release

 

Inhabits tropical and subtropical waters near land masses, usually in depths over 6 fathoms, but occasionally caught in lesser depths and from ocean piers. Pelagic and migratory, sailfish usually travel alone or in small groups. They appear to feed mostly in midwater along the edges of reefs or current eddies.

  Costa Rica sailfish fishing conservation

Its outstanding feature is the long, high first dorsal which is slate or cobalt blue with a scattering of black spots. The second dorsal fin is very small. The bill is longer than that of the spearfish, usually a little more than twice the length of the elongated lower jaw. The vent is just forward of the first anal fin. The sides often have pale, bluish gray vertical bars or rows of spots.

More on the Saifish from the IGFA.org Fish Database

Its fighting ability and spectacular aerial acrobatics endear the sailfish to the saltwater angler, but it tires quickly and is considered a light tackle species. Fishing methods include trolling with strip baits, plures, feathers or spoons, as well as live bait fishing and kite fishing. The most action is found where sailfish are located on or near the surface where they feed.

Recent acoustical tagging and tracking experiments suggest that this species is quite hardy and that survival of released specimens is good

FECOP Fish Facts: Pacific Sailfish

Fastest Fish in the Sea at up to 70mph

World Record 222 lbs (Ecuador)

Common Name: Sailfish

Scientific Name: Istiophorus

Type: Fish

Diet: Carnivores

Group Name: School

Average life span in The Wild: 4 years

Feeding Tactics: Uses its bill to stun individual fish or slash groups of fish

Size: 5.7 to 11 ft

Weight: 120 to 220 lbs

Size relative to a 6-ft man:

 

Related Sailfish Articles

Why a Sailfish is Worth More Alive then Dead

How to Safely Estimate the Size of a Sailfish

New to Sailfish? Start Here – Sailfish for Dummies

The Top Ten Fastest Fish in the Ocean

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Top 10 Fastest Fish in the Ocean

Costa Rica Fishing – The 10 fastest fish in the Ocean

Most of these species frequent the offshore waters of Costa Rica. Which speedster ranks number 1? Watch the video to find out!

Top 10 Worlds Fastest Ocean Fish Video

Unfortunately several of these Top 10 Fastest Fish in the Ocean are become endangered due to non-sustainable industrial level fishing practices, mainly from foreign fleets. Learn more about FECOP’s tuna decree and what we are doing to maintain healthy fish populations throughout Costa Rica including stopping the exportation of Sailfish, pushing tuna pursein boats 45 miles offshore, and decreasing bycatch by 25 tons in 2017. Check out some of the articles below for more information about the sustainable fishing projects, initiatives and events throughout Costa Rica.

About FECOP
FECOP is an (NGO) in Costa Rica focused on marine conservation through education and outreach to local communities.

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Penn Fishing
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